Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph was doing his weekly group interview in the locker room when word spread that ESPN’s Adam Schefter was reporting that the Raiders are planning to suspend mercurial receiver Antonio Brown after an altercation with general manager Mike Mayock.
That sparked a conversation about the Vikings’ “culture” that players, coaches, front office personnel and ownership often talks about.
This thought came to mind here and was pitched to Rudolph as a question in general terms: How much do players police the so-called culture and how do they do it when the violator of said culture is a league superstar and future Hall of Famer:
“If the players aren’t policing it, then you won’t have a good locker room,” Rudolph said. “Coach [Mike] Zimmer leads by example and he sets the standard for us. He lets us know as leaders what he expects out of this team. From there, it’s on us as players to hold each other accountable.
“It’s not easy, especially a guy who plays at such a high level on Sunday. But as a leader of a football team, that’s something you have to do. And the best football teams are the teams whose superstars are the ones that are policing each other.”
Brown became such a pain in Pittsburgh that the Steelers shipped him off to Oakland at bargain pricing while swallowing $21.2 million in dead money against the salary cap.
Brown’s brief time in Oakland has been filled with distractions. He missed the start of camp because he got frostbite on his feet while in a cryotherapy chamber. He threatened to retire rather than update his helmet to meet mandatory NFL safety standards. He missed a practice and then a walkthrough. When he got fined by Mayock, he took a photo of Mayock’s fine letter, put it on social media and criticized his own team for fining him.
Meanwhile, Rudolph seemed happy to be in an under-the-radar locker room far from Oakland.
“I mentioned when I re-signed here part of the reason I wanted to stay here was because of the culture,” he said. “That’s from the Wilf family on down. The type of players they have brought into this locker room, whether it’s guys they draft and develop or guys they bring in in free agency, there’s a certain type of player they look for.
“When you look around this locker room, you have a bunch of guys that just come to work every day. Coach Zimmer stresses it every day. I have a job to do so the guy next to me can do his as well. I just feel like when we go out on the field and have 11 guys with that same mentality, nobody cares who gets the credit, nobody cares what it takes for us to win football games, as long as we’re winning football games.”